Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vipont and Raymond Briggs

The Elephant and the Bad Baby is one of my 3-year-old’s favourite books. It is an ideal bedtime story as it has a rhythm to it that can lull your child to sleep.

The elephant meets a bad baby so takes him for a ride. Along the way he asks if the bad baby would like buns, lollipops etc. from various shops they pass, and the bad baby always says yes. This leads to the shop owners such as the baker chasing after them in an ever increasing band. But the bad baby never once said please so gets his comeuppance.

I know some other reviewers have criticised aspects of the book. They said that the barrow boy is smoking a cigar on the five or so pages he appears on, but the pictures date back to a time, perhaps the 1950s, before supermarkets ruled, a time when grocers and sweetshops filled the high street instead and when barrow boys smoked cigars. And I am quite confident that these pictures will not influence my child to smoke, and that the more likely influences will be her parents’ and her friends’ behaviour when she is many years older.

Also I've seen reviewers moan because the baby falls off the elephant. The picture makes it look like a bad fall from a suddenly halting elephant, one that would hurt a lot. However again no one in their right mind would allow their baby to ride a real life elephant in this way, and this is a work of fiction in which the baby falls off but is not hurt.

But for me and my daughter it is a great book with great pictures showing England as it once was (although there is a running elephant there too), and there is a lovely rhythm to the story with nice repetition making the book ideal for young listeners.

Publication date: 30 Aug 1971

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